Dominican Republic President Abinader Wins His Second Term - Latest Global News

Dominican Republic President Abinader Wins His Second Term

According to preliminary results, Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader has won a second term in the elections, securing victory in the first round.

The hugely popular president vowed unity and impartial leadership as he declared victory after his rivals conceded a goal on Sunday night after securing a big enough lead to win without a second-round faceoff had to.

Abinader’s victory appears to be a vindication of his handling of the economy and his tough policies on migration from neighboring Haiti.

With just over half of the voting centers reporting late Sunday, Abinader received 58.85 percent of the vote. His closest rival, three-time former President Leonel Fernandez, received 27.29 percent, according to preliminary data from electoral authorities.

While the final results were still pending, the 56-year-old Abinader had won significantly more than the required 50 percent to rule out a runoff. That caused Fernandez and another rival, Abel Martinez, to quit.

“Today our country shines in its own light,” Abinader told supporters at the headquarters of his Modern Revolutionary Party, pledging to serve all citizens as president.

He called for a country “without differences, without sectarianism and without party colors”.

The re-elected head of state also promised to implement constitutional reform based on continuity of power and not dependent on the “personal whim” of the incumbent president. He promised that he would not run again after his second term expired.

Presidents in the Dominican Republic are limited to two four-year terms. However, previous reforms have extended presidential mandates.

While opposition parties reported a number of minor irregularities, voting in the election largely went smoothly.

Many of the eight million eligible voters are still concerned about the election authority’s decision to suspend the 2020 local elections due to a technical glitch that led to what appeared to be a high voter turnout.

Voters said they were satisfied with the electoral process, according to Luis Fortuno, an international election observer and former governor of Puerto Rico.

“In general, the electoral process was conducted correctly, openly and democratically,” Fortuno said.

Haitian migrants

One of Latin America’s most popular presidents, Abinader, had approval ratings of around 70 percent, a CID-Gallup poll showed in September.

The election result reinforced Abinader’s main political line. These include an anti-corruption program, tougher action along the shared border with Haiti and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing the violence-torn neighboring country.

Abinader, a U.S.-educated economist of Lebanese descent, was elected during the COVID pandemic in 2020 on a promise to restore trust in the government after several high-profile corruption scandals involving officials in the top tourist destination.

After taking office, he began building a 100-mile-long concrete wall along the border with Haiti to keep out illegal migrants. He deported more than 250,000 migrants in 2023, despite international pressure on the country to take in more refugees.

Voter Willy Soto, 21, was among the crowd outside Abinader’s campaign headquarters. He expressed his approval of the action against migrants.

While he says he knows “the guidelines against.” [Haitians] “are very strict,” he told The Associated Press news agency, saying the steps the president has taken are important to ensure the safety of Dominicans like him.

“This is not a problem that will be solved overnight,” Soto said. “The policies that he has implemented, the way he has cracked down, closed the border and built a wall, I think it is a good initiative to get the problem of Haitian migration under control.”

Another voter, Javier Taveras, 38, told AFP that he “likes the current position of preserving sovereignty” but not “the abuses against our Haitian brothers.” As for the border wall, “I don’t know how effective it is,” he said.

While the refugee policy is popular among Dominicans, it has drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups who call it racist and a violation of international law.

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